2016 Pilgrims in the Holy Land

2016 Pilgrims in the Holy Land

by The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California

Bishop Barry Beisner and Bishop Greg Rickel, of The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, returned this week after leading a pilgrimage to the Holy Land for bishops, ordinands and newly ordained clergy in The Episcopal Church in January 2016. Members of The Episcopal Dioceses of Northern California, Olympia and Arizona were among the pilgrims.

"I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this life-changing trip," shares Anne Clarke, Lifelong Christian Faith Formation Coordinator for the Office of the Bishop and ordinand. "To walk in the steps of Jesus around the Holy Land, and to get to speak with some of the people who make this complicated and beautiful place their home today, was not an experience that I will soon forget."

The pilgrimage began in north Israel, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (pictured here), and included such highlights as Mount Tabor, Nazareth, the Mount of Beatitudes, the Jordan River and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. There were also visits to Capernaum, Jerusalem, the Western Wall and Ramallah. Bishop Beisner and Bishop Rickel were also able to visit Gaza.

"Our personal encounters with the historical holy places of our Christian tradition have been very important to us in our own respective paths of spiritual formation," share Bishop Beisner and Bishop Rickel. "We are convinced that such a pilgrimage can be a vital part of the work of preparation for ordained ministry in our Church."

Mary Heller Taggart is a postulant from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Healdsburg, CA who joined the pilgrims on this sacred journey. "What a privilege it was to follow in Christ's steps, with such a wonderful group of pilgrims," she reflects, "and to have encountered the rich variety of people in that most troubled, holy and beautiful land!"

Sonya Reichel is a candidate from Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento who is serving right now at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Carmichael, and also attended the 2016 Pilgrimage. "I went expecting to be impressed by holy sites, and I was," she explains. "But I was more impressed by holy people, by the "living stones" who carry forward our ancient, life-giving traditions under incredibly difficult circumstances. For anyone who fears the collapse of the Christian church, I say, 'Go to the Holy Land!' There a small but mighty Christian church is doing incredible work to alleviate suffering and be a bridge of peace between the Jewish and Muslim people."


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